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Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero Meet With Detainee Roger Christie at Federal Detention Center

At 8:00am today, Senator Russell Ruderman, joined by Senator Will Espero, met with federal detainee Roger Christie at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Honolulu to discuss his incarceration, health, and rights as a United States citizen under the United States Constitution. Mr. Christie has been held now for almost three years without a bail hearing or a trial.

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

After weeks of requests and assurances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office granted permission for Senator Ruderman, representing Christie’s district, and Senator Espero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, to visit Mr. Christie at the FDC in Honolulu with restrictions, including that no media shall be present. Mr. Christie has not been allowed to meet with media despite requests from National Geographic, Newsweek and Honolulu Civil Beat among many others.

In June of 2010, Mr. Christie, along with twelve co-defendants, was charged with manufacture, possession with intent to sell marijuana. The other defendants have been released on bail pending trial. Prior to the detention hearing, Mr. Christie was interviewed by the Office of Pretrial Services and on July 13, 2010, Pretrial Services issued a report that recommended that Mr. Christie be released on an unsecured bond of $50,000.

In the almost three years since that recommendation, all efforts to have Mr. Christie released pending trial or have access to a speedy trial have been denied. Visitations have been severely limited by the FDC including those by his wife Share Christie, who has not been allowed to see her husband for almost a year. In recent weeks, additional charges have been added, and his trial postponed once again.

While the charges against Mr. Christie are federal in nature, holding a defendant without bail, while denying his/her constitutional right to a speedy trial is virtually unheard of in our state. Even those accused of serious crimes such as large-scale distribution of ice, violent criminals, rapists, and murderers are routinely released on bail pending trial.

To urge President Obama and the Federal Government to release Mr. Christie pending a hearing, Senator Ruderman authored two measures – Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 and Senate Resolution 42 – both of these measures have been passed by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs.

Mr. Christie explained that he is content with the position he is in because he feels he is doing the right thing and looks forward to proving his innocence in a court of law, saying, “Dignity trumps longevity.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero expressed their concern for Mr. Christie, the violation of his Constitutional rights, and the implications for all persons facing non-violent federal charges and deemed dangerous by the federal judicial system, such has been the case for Mr. Christie since July 2010.

Senator Ruderman said, “I have known Roger for over 25 years. He is one of the most peaceful persons I know. To anyone who knows him, the claim that he is a danger to the community is absurd.”

Senator Espero commented. “This visit was very enlightening. I still feel that Mr. Christie should be released pending a trial.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero would like to graciously thank FDC Warden David Shinn, Asst. Warden Tom Blumm, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara, and Public Defender Thomas Otake, for their assistance and for the opportunity to meet with Roger Christie.

 

Hawaii Department of the Attorney General Files Answers to Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

Attorney General David M. Louie announced today that Governor Neil Abercrombie and Director of the State Department of Health Loretta Fuddy, have filed separate answers, as the two defendants named in their official capacities, in the First Amended Complaint in Jackson v. Abercrombie, the United States District Court lawsuit which challenges Hawaii’s ban on same sex marriage.

Click to read

Governor Abercrombie has acknowledged many of the complaint’s allegations, including the denial of federal constitutional rights caused by the state’s existing marriage law.  Director Fuddy, however, as the director of the department charged with administering the law, has denied many of the complaint’s allegations.  As such, the Department of Health will continue to enforce the law, and will vigorously defend it.  Both defendants’ answers are attached to this press release.

The Complaint

The complaint alleges that on November 18, 2011, plaintiffs Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid were denied a marriage license by the Department of Health because they are both women.  The complaint also alleges that plaintiff Gary Bradley and his partner were the first male couple to obtain a civil union in Hawaii, but chose not to apply for a marriage license because it would be “futile” to do so under state law.

All three plaintiffs allege that the denial of a marriage license to them by the State, pursuant to section 572-1 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and article I, section 23 of the Hawaii Constitution, violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection under state law, guaranteed them by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Governor Abercrombie’s Position

Governor Abercrombie, in choosing not to defend those portions of the complaint alleging equal protection and due process violations under the United States Constitution, issued the following statement: “Under current law, a heterosexual couple can choose to enter into a marriage or a civil union.  A same-sex couple, however, may only elect a civil union.  My obligation as Governor is to support equality under law.  This is inequality, and I will not defend it.”

In his answer to the complaint, Governor Abercrombie has specifically admitted several of the plaintiffs’ allegations:

· To the extent that state law allows opposite sex couples, but not same sex couples, to get married, it violates the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

· State law, in denying all opposite sex couples the ability to get married, violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution because the right to marry is a fundamental right, and there is no legitimate reason to deny otherwise qualified couples the ability to marry simply because they are of the same sex.

· Allowing opposite sex couples but not same sex couples to get married violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.  By denying all same sex couples the ability to marry, state law discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, and there are no compelling, substantial, or even rational bases for such discrimination.
Governor Abercrombie is defending against all of the allegations in the complaint that he has not admitted in his answer.  This means he is defending against certain allegations, including defending the state against any civil rights liability under chapter 42, section 1983 of the United States Code.  The Governor is also defending the state against any money damages claims.

Director Fuddy’s Position

Director Fuddy, after consulting with the Governor, has chosen to defend against the complaint.  She issued the following statement: “The Department of Health is charged with implementing the law as passed by the Legislature. Absent any ruling to the contrary by competent judicial authority regarding constitutionality, the law will be enforced.  Because I am being sued for administering the law, I will also defend it.”

In her answer to the complaint, Director Fuddy specifically:

· Admits that she has been sued in her capacity as the Director of the Department of Health.  The authority, responsibilities, and duties of that office are as stated in Hawaii law.

· Admits that Bradley and his male partner cannot be issued a marriage license under existing Hawai‘i law.

· Denies that plaintiffs may have their relationship recognized as a marriage by the state.
The Attorney General’s Legal Ability To Represent Multiple Parties

The Attorney General has assigned separate teams of attorneys to represent the Governor and the Director of Health, under well-established Hawaii Supreme Court precedent.

In State v. Klattenhoff (1990) and Chun v. Board of Trustees of Employees’ Retirement System of State of Hawaii (1998), the Hawaii Supreme Court held that the Department of the Attorney General may undertake concurrent representation of multiple parties, which might otherwise constitute a conflict of interest under Rule 1.7 of the Hawaii Code of Professional Conduct, the rules governing lawyers.  In so doing, however, the Department must erect appropriate firewalls between the competing attorneys, and take steps to ensure that no prejudice is suffered by the clients.

In this case, both the Governor and the Director are being represented by separate teams of attorneys general, and appropriate protections have been put in place to ensure that both clients are being vigorously, and separately, represented.

County of Hawaii to Celebrate 2nd Annual Citizenship Day on Friday

The county Office of Immigration Information at the Office of the Mayor in partnership with the Exchange Club of Hilo, Aloha Exchange Club, Hilo Lions and Akaka Falls Lions Club is celebrating its second annual Citizenship Day on Friday, September 16, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in Hilo.

Citizenship Day

The ceremony will honor and recognize the newest Americans who were recently naturalized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The public is invited to attend this free event.  It is also a day to express pride in our citizenship.

September 17 is Constitution and Citizenship Day.  This day commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. In 2004, Congress passed legislation to make Citizenship Day a federal holiday.

In the past, USCIS (formerly INS) administered the oath-taking ceremonies to those who successfully passed the US naturalization examination at the Third District Court’s Courthouse in Hilo.   A few years ago, the agency ceased their neighbor island outreach services, and it now administers the oath of citizenship exclusively in Honolulu. This limits the ability of friends and relatives to attend the ceremonies.

The Immigration Information Office event will allow families and friends to celebrate what is considered a most profound day with those who have made a choice to become American citizens. The Immigration Office is urging anyone who recently took the oath of US Citizenship to participate in the Citizenship Day 2011.  The Immigration Office also encourages those who are Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s or “green card” holders) who are interested in applying for US citizenship to attend because the office will distribute naturalization application and study materials at the event.

For more information, please contact Rose Bautista Immigration Information Specialist at 961-8220 or Email: rbautista@co.hawaii.hi.us